Couch activism was the flavor of the year and has been for the last few. Millions of people all over the world get caught in snaring headlines and commence to opining on social media. Hashtags are generated, airwaves are stuffed with voices from popular culture critics, and websites pop-up that sell hoodies and T-shirts with phrases like, No Justice No Peace. Controversy is a taste-maker, it is the back-bone of public engagement. Social issues come and go, some topics stick on the web longer than others, but on average, a couple of months is the life span of public out-crying and that’s pushing it.
Is the internet rage real?
The internet outrage phenomenon has many people calling it, “fake outrage,” or “fake caring.” I was one of those people, but after further analysis I think these coined phrases are too easy and lazy of a summation, this new age wonder deserves more inspection. Certainly, there are some folks pretending to care so that they can gain attention, the “clout chasers” if you will, but I do believe that most people are triggered by click-bait videos and titles, and don’t know what to do with the overwhelm. The average person is not adequately tooled with how to effect change outside of emotional expression. We are the most separated societally in history, community doesn’t really exist thus civic organizing can feel inauthentic; most people are internet based, confined in their homes or small circles of friends, so much so that they break out in hives at the thought of socializing with strangers.
Furthermore, most people are not pro-active in their own lives, let alone for a national, international or global cause. The average individual has difficulty maintaining discipline in their own lives e.g. practicing healthy eating habits, consistent reading, or finishing school. There is a quote, “how a person does one thing is how they do everything,” the idea is that all of your behaviors are a macrocosm of your personal values. Suffice to say that how most people confront things they disagree with in their personal lives is the same way they deal with grander perceived injustices — they complain, fawn over it, and move on. As the click-bait becomes more seductive and the context of shocking viral video clips go on un-searched we can expect the attention span of humans to further shorten and the rage to intensify.
There is a real place in social advocacy for philosophical activism, as cheeky as it sounds, it is a real thing. A philosophical activist is someone who does the thinking and researching on a cause — they are the brains behind the operation. Not everyone is meant to picket the streets, some people are simply meant to do the great thinking. A philosophical activist is often the person who realizes there is a problem to begin with, before it becomes a viral sensation. They are the person who does the investigating that will later be needed to galvanize an intellectual audience, the type of audience that needs to be convinced by more than cute hashtags. The key difference between a philosophical activist and the general public is that they are not skimming think-pieces, going on rants, and walking away. They are committed to seeing it through, whatever it is. Typically, it is their life work, they use their rage as an impetus to thinking creatively about the problem, how it came to be, and solutions. Then the front-line activists come in by taking the work and bringing it into fruition with crowd-funding, protesting, law pushing etc.
There is an Eco-system to activism and while I’ve been critical of social media’s part in it, I’d be remiss not to mention the public outrage does bring awareness to important issues.
Nevertheless, in no particular order, I have compiled a short list of things that are still of curiosity to me but the general public has seemingly forgotten about.
1. AMAZON RAIN-FOREST FIRES. Last year the rain-forest and internet went aflame, the Amazon rain-forests were burning down rapidly and the world demanded that the Brazilian government not only be held accountable for their exploitative environmental practices, but that everyone donate and help cease the fires’ spread. As of October 2020, the Amazon fires have not stopped but the public concern has. Notably, this year, 2020, has actually had some of the worst rain-forest burnings in history, but I haven’t seen even one post about it.
2. BLACK LIVES MATTER FUND. The BLM organization was formed in 2013 in the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting death of the Black teen Trayvon Martin however it was the death of Floyd, an unarmed Black man who was killed by Minneapolis police during an arrest, that hurled the organization into global recognition. The BLM organization over the years has collected donations but because there has never been a clear leader of the collective the accountability for who handles the funding has gone unchecked. There have been conversations among members of BLM chapters about wanting to donate the money to post offices, gay rights groups, and other entities that have no relation to how the organization was initially launched. Billions have been raised for BLM, with a number so high, whispers are stirring about where the funding has gone, but no public record has been released. The public concern remains hushed.
3. OMAROSA NEWMAN’s EXIT. Newman was appointed assistant of President Trump as the director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison. When she was released from her position she went on a press tour about her Tell-All book regarding her time under Trump. Newman’s book, Unhinged, was released in 2018 and the internet exploded in reaction to her rebellion. The public was split on how to respond; the people who disliked Trump didn’t know whether to still dislike her for agreeing to support him to begin with or to ingratiate her for now having a shared enemy. And of course, those who love Trump immediately went to bashing her which included many personal attacks. After the book was released it was if a magic wand was waved, there was an immediate silence, so much so, I checked her Instagram to make sure she hadn’t been kidnapped. Currently, there is an ongoing lawsuit against her; the Trump administration is suing her for NDA violations among other things which appear convoluted and retaliatory in nature. There hasn’t been coverage on this in over a year from news outlets or the general public.
4. THIS IS US. With all of the heaviness I figured I’d give you break. The hit show, This Is Us, is said to end this year 2020, and I haven’t heard or read a peep about it. I still remember people posting videos of them glossy eyed underneath a blanket watching the melodrama. As much as other shows trend on the internet I found it interesting that the show hasn’t trended this year in a good or bad way, there aren’t many couch reviewers with much of an opinion it, it is almost as if the show has already disappeared.
5. JP MORGAN DRUG TRAFFIC SCANDAL. In 2019 one of JP Morgan’s ships was raided, it was one of the biggest drug busts in history; $1 billion worth of cocaine was found. The bank declined to comment about it and the case virtually disappeared. I have scoured the internet and there are only a few current articles referencing the incident and none of them have any new developments on the case. I think its safe to say that this was handled off the books, nobody involved talked about it and the public forgot it.
Comment below any incidents that you believe were unjustly forgotten. Thank you for reading as we know not much of that is done these days and be sure to subscribe before you go.